Alan has two selections for today from the jumps meeting at Ascot and on the all-weather at Newcastle...
"His last winning mark was 1lb higher than today's and I think he can run a big race."
Count Meribel has to be backed on seasonal debut
Going fresh tends to bring out the best in Count Meribel, he generally starts his campaigns at Carlisle where in 2017 he won on his seasonal debut; he did the same in 2018, and in 2019 he was second to Lostintranslation. After a 300 day break he has opted to skip Carlisle and instead turn his head to another right handed track at Ascot. He was pulled up last time out at Cheltenham but Nigel Twiston-Davies', who won this race last year, runner's rating has now dropped dropped to a much more manageable figure. His last winning mark was 1lb higher than today's and I think he can run a big race.
If he is to be triumphant again first time up this campaign then he will have to get the better of Venetia Williams', Espoir De Guye. He may have disappointed some in a very good renewal of the novice handicap at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but prior to that we shouldn't forget how easily he won by 10 lengths against a quality field here in December last year. The six-year-old is another who goes well fresh and this is first run after undergoing wind surgery. I think one of these two win this but I favour Count Meribel today.
Mick Easterby may have found a weak even for La Rav
The opening race at Newcastle can go to La Rav who has improved massively to win on his last two outings, both of which were here over course and distance. Last time out Mick Easterby's charge won by an easy 10 lengths and although he has a 7lb penalty to overcome today, he won with so much in hand that there should still be more to come from the six-year-old.
I don't think there is too much strength in depth in the race, Song Of The Isles looks like being the main threat seeking a four timer but she's a bit light on all-weather experience. With just three starts on the surface, she finished 13th of 14 runners here on her penultimate all-weather start and then eighth of 10 last time at Lingfield. So the four-year-old filly is going to have to step up quite a bit on her fourth all weather outing to beat La Rav.
2020 (prior to this week) : -3.71pts
This week so far...
Staked: 8 Pts
Returned: 11.1 pts
2020 P&L -1.39 pts
2019 P&L +0.31 pts
2018 P&L +82.29 pts
2017 P&L +53.30 pts
2016 P&L +15.23 pts
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